This weekend I was talking with a friend who paints home interiors and movie sets. On the topic of workplace safety, he said that – without a doubt – the biggest safety precaution he recommends is keeping a clean worksite.
He’s been a professional painter for 20 years and often works with different trades. They need to work with the lead contractor to stay aware of each other’s activities, which requires constant awareness on site. Too often he sees a lack of clean-up, which really frustrates him because of the risks it poses to others.
A shop machinist echoed this sentiment. He told me, via Facebook message, that a messy shop can lead to “slipping on spills and debris, catching your ankles on equipment and pallets, badly racked material falling.”
When I asked him if he had anything else to say about the importance of a clean shop, he said no.
“It’s just common sense – too hard to explain because it’s so obvious,” he said.
I agree it’s an obvious message – but if people aren’t cleaning up properly, they need to be reminded because the risks to others are significant.
“Many injuries result from poor housekeeping in the shop. Trips, slips and falls account for the bulk of these mishaps,” reads Shop Safety Basics on the Canada Safety Council website.
“Scrap material and wrappings, loose parts, scattered tools and equipment, or oil spills can cause injury. Debris should be swept up and disposed of in designated areas. Parts should be kept on work benches. Tools should be placed where they cannot fall and cause damage or injury. Oil spills should be covered with absorbent material and cleaned up.”
The importance of proper clean-up extends to other industries as well, so below are some tips that can be printed and posted in different types of workplaces. If you have any ideas on how to remind people of the obvious, please do share!
Toolbox meeting guide for construction housekeeping – from WorkSafeBC
Slips and trips in health care – safety bulletin from WorkSafeBC
Clean up spills and keep floors clean – kitchen safety poster from WorkSafeBC
Don’t let someone else take the fall – warehouse safety from WorkSafeBC
Prevention of slips, trips, and falls – from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Housekeeping at Work – from Ontario’s Industrial Accident Prevention Association
This WorkSafeBC video uses a retro style to spoof the safety videos of yesteryear.